The Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit completed two rescues over the Fourth of July holiday. Long accustomed to interruption of holiday celebrations, the RMRU team began one mission around 9 p.m. Tuesday, July 3. Two hikers from the San Francisco area had left the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway mountaintop station at 2:15 p.m. for a day hike to Long Valley and had gotten badly off trail in the Saddle Junction area. Christopher Wimmer, 36, and Victoria Oliver, 29, used a cell phone to call authorities.
Five local RMRU members, Lee Arnson, Helene Lohr, Ralph Hoetger, Les Walker and Donny Goetz were part of the team called out at 9 p.m. They reached the hikers at 12:30 a.m. several miles from the tram station.
“They were freezing,” Arnson said, “cold and miserable. We outfitted them and hiked them down to Humber Park, arriving around 3 a.m. Both hikers were uninjured and in good spirits. The pair was later transported back to Palm Springs.
“We were lined up for the [Idyllwild Fourth of July] parade by 9 a.m.,” said Arnson. After the parade on the Fourth, around 4 p.m. the team, augmented by local member Craig Wills, was again mobilized, “We dropped our barbecue tongs,” said Arnson, “and moved out.”
This time the search was for a 13-year-old boy who had become separated from his father in a hike from the tram station to Idyllwild. The father had allowed the son to hike ahead of him. When the father arrived at Humber Park, the son was not there, according to Arnson.
RMRU located the boy at 6 p.m. about a mile from the trailhead and reunited him with his father at the Humber Park parking lot. Arnson stressed the importance of hiking with others and staying with your group, especially if not familiar with the local mountain trails.